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Title: Causality in a McDowellian world
Author: McKay, A. C.
Awarding Body: Queen's University Belfast
Current Institution: Queen's University Belfast
Date of Award: 2014
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The thesis explores and suggests a solution to a problem that I identify in John McDowell's and Lynne Rudder Baker's approaches to mental and intention-dependent (ID) causation in the physical world. I discuss McDowell's non-reductive and anti-scientistic account of mind and world, which I believe promises to renew and liberate philosophy. Baker's constitution account, I argue, provides a potential link between McDowell's categories of the space of reasons and the realm of law. However, both McDowell and Baker view mental causation as acting unproblematically within the physical world. I argue that this is inconsistent with an understanding of ordinary physical causality as objective, in the sense of being recognition-independent, and as causally complete. I develop an account of what I call manifest physical causation - of objective causal relations in the ordinary world of Wilfrid Sellars's manifest image and its extensions into the special sciences. Manifest physical causation, on my account, is productive, acts through physical mechanisms, and is causally closed. In my view, mental and ID property-instances are not part of the manifest physical causal nexus. I conclude by suggesting a modification of Baker's constitution account, which I call Constituted Causation, whereby higher-level - mental and other ID - causal relations are constituted, in favourable circumstances, by lower-level ones. Causality, I argue, relates property-instances at the same ontological level. ID causal relations belong in their own causal nexus of rational and normative relations, connected to the manifest physical world through constitution, a relation of unity without identity. On Baker's view, the essential properties of constituted entities subsume those of their constituters. Extending this to my account enables us to say that the real cause and explanation of someone's action is that they consciously performed it rather than that certain causal processes occurred at the lower level.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available